Nirupama Subramanian

The bench will fix the next date of hearing after two weeks, says Chief Justice

The federal and Punjab governments have appealed against the JuD leader’s release

Early this week, the Punjab government declared an intention to withdraw its appeal

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to a request by the federal government for a short adjournment in the Hafiz Saeed release appeals case and will fix the next date of hearing after two weeks.

Deputy Attorney-General Shah Khawar told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary that Attorney-General Latif Khosa would like to argue the federal government’s appeal himself and as he was not available, the case should be adjourned and a new date fixed.

When the Punjab Advocate General Raza Farooq, representing the provincial government, informed the court that he would be unavailable from July 23 to July 31, the Chief Justice said the bench would fix the date after two weeks.

Both the federal and Punjab provincial governments have appealed in the Supreme Court against a Lahore High Court order releasing the Jamat-ud-Dawa leader from house arrest. The appeals were taken up earlier this week, but the Punjab government threw a surprise by declaring an intention to withdraw its appeal citing the federal government’s failure to provide it with any fresh material to justify Mr. Saeed’s December 2008 house arrest.

Thereafter, the Punjab government retreated from its verbal submission in court seeking withdrawal of its appeal and, along with the federal government, asked for time to seek instructions from “competent authorities.”

The court had given both until Thursday to do this, but meanwhile the federal government moved for a short adjournment. Before granting the adjournment, the Chief Justice asked the Punjab official whether the bench should take up his request for withdrawal of the petition and dispose of the appeal.

Mr. Farooq told the court that the Punjab government was ready to revisit its request for withdrawal if the federal government, on whose instructions it carried out Mr. Saeed’s detention, was able to provide material that could justify the detention.

Mr. Khawar said as of now the federal government was determined to argue the appeal and if at all there was any decision to withdraw, it would be made “at a very high level.”

He expressed confidence that the government had “sufficient substance with us to persuade the Supreme Court to set aside the Lahore High Court order.” The federal government, he said, had intelligence reports that made out grounds for the detention. It is unclear if these were the same reports that the Lahore High Court had brushed aside as insufficient in its order for Mr. Saeed’s release.

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